Making Conversations Count: Newcastle University is improving communication between people with dementia and their loved ones
- Health & Social Care Research, Dementia, Culture & Society
An estimated 50 million people around the world are living with dementia. Caused by a breakdown of the connections in the brain, dementia affects people’s skills, abilities and interactions. Symptoms of dementia often include memory loss, difficulty in concentrating and problems communicating, which can impact upon the way in which people interact on both sides of a conversation. This can contribute to huge strains on patients, their families and care providers.“Communicating with people with dementia is important for their wellbeing and beneficial for everyone, both carers and those who are being cared for,” explains Dr Tony Young. “Dementia affects more than 800,000 people in the UK alone and the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that 25 million people in the UK have a close friend or family member with the condition.”DemTalk, supported by Alzheimer’s Society UK, brings together experts, family members and people living with dementia. DemTalk is a web-based toolkit which is helping to improve communication with people with dementia. The team are also developing international versions of the advice packages, and using them to help medical undergraduates in their training both at the University's Newcastle and Malaysia campuses.“Communicating with someone living with dementia can be difficult,” says Dr Young, who is part of the development team. “We put together the DemTalk toolkit to show the different ways you can improve communication. It has proved popular with professional carers but we wanted it to reach as many people as possible so we set up the website and ensured it is absolutely free to use.”
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